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Adopting a Baby: How to Prepare Before Your Adopted Baby Comes Home

Congratulations on your impending arrival! Adopting a baby is a beautiful and personal roller coaster towards parenthood. And while your exact bundle of joy may still be undetermined, there’s so much to do to prepare for your baby. In honor of National Adoption Day, we’ve put together a checklist, of sorts, to help you get yourself and your home ready. When and how you prepare is up to you; some parents prefer to wait until they’re matched, others start as soon as they’re approved.

Adoption Preparation Checklist

Maybe you’ve recently been approved to adopt. Maybe you’re still in the paperwork process, but you know it’s coming. Either way, once you are approved, preparing to become first-time parents is much the same as it is in any other situation  – except you don’t have a set timeline. It could be anywhere from a few weeks to months. And while their age might be known, you may not know the sex of your child until you’re matched – sometimes not until they day they’re born.

So, how do you get ready when it comes to having everything baby needs? Let’s break it down by what you need before you match and after your match.

Necessities Before You Match

  • Neutral onesies and pants/shirts combos, both short-sleeve and long-sleeve, in the age range you’ve been approved for. Save any gender-specific items for later.
  • Diapers in newborn to size 3. If friends, family, or co-workers know about the upcoming adoption and ask what they can do to help, suggesting diapers is a great way to help you prep.
  • A couple bottles and formula or donated frozen breast milk. Of course, we suggest including Dr. Brown’s® bottles in your selection, and potentially grabbing a Wide-Neck and a Narrow version.
  • Bottle cleaning supplies like bottle brushes or dishwasher baskets and a drying rack.
  • Bottle warmer, sterilizer, and day-to-day maintenance tools
  • Educational and emotionally supportive toys that can help baby self soothe during this time of transition, such as Dr. Brown’s™ Lovey Pacifier and Teether holder.
  • A car seat appropriate for babies in your approved age range.
  • Burping cloths, baby wipes, diaper cream, toothbrush or dental wipes, and general care items.

Sometimes it can be emotionally difficult to purchase nursery furniture, and have it placed, prior to matching. It may be helpful, timewise, to at least buy a neutral crib and changing dresser and keep it stored away until matching. It may make that time between matching and bringing baby home a bit less stressful if the items are already in your home. If you prefer not to, it will be helpful to research options so that you know what you want to purchase in a pinch.

Baby Proofing the House

No matter the age of the baby, proofing your house can be done from the moment of approval. Here are a few tips to baby proofing:

  • Baby gates at stairs or doorways
  • Corner padding for furniture with sharp edges such as coffee tables
  • Cabinet locks for the lower cabinets and pantry
  • Review of home for choking or poison hazards

Other Things to Think About Now

Take all the classes and read all the books you would regardless of how your baby is coming into your life. Learn how to care for them, feeding positions, the best bottle options, and parenting styles. Now is a great time to sign up for infant CPR and first aid classes. If you have friends or family in your life with little ones, spend time with them to experience parenthood firsthand.

Once you’re approved to adopt, you may have to let your employers know that you will have to take sudden time off when the call comes in. Review your leave policies and speak to the appropriate staff to ensure you’re covered when you need to be.

Necessities After You Match

  • Teethers, pacifiers, swaddling blankets, and other age-appropriate items for general well-being and self-soothing.
  • Weather-appropriate clothing and protection like jackets and socks or sunscreen and bug spray.
  • If you haven’t purchased nursery furniture, now is the time. In this situation, two-day shipping may be worth any potential extra cost.
  • High chair or booster seats.
  • Age-appropriate sippy cups and feeding utensils, if necessary.

Amazon, Target and two-day shipping will become your best friend during this time!

By now, you can also buy a few more bottles. Since you’ll know baby’s age, you can get the appropriate ounce/milliliter sizes; most parents stock up with at least six bottles. For bottle nipples, go ahead and grab a range of flow sizes that are at, right below and right above the recommended age range. This way, you’ll have plenty of options to find out baby’s preferred flow rate. It’s important to note, if you are adopting an older baby who is already bottle fed, it might be best to learn the brand they’re currently using so you don’t need to go through the hassle of trying to switch them to a new bottle when they come home.

What to Have for the Big Day

Getting that call that your baby is about to be born is one of the most exciting feelings on the planet. In the rush to get where you need to go, you don’t want to leave unprepared for one of the biggest moments of your life. Plus, depending on your adoption situation, you may not be able to bring baby home for a week or more. That means, pack a baby go-bag.

A baby go-bag is simply a diaper bag on steroids. The following list is a guideline for adopting a young baby; you may have to adjust based on your match or items you wish to bring with you.

Baby Go-Bag Items

  • One car seat; the hospital won’t let you leave without one.
  • Baby carrier
  • One or two sets of outfits that are weather appropriate
  • A couple blankets
  • Package of newborn or size 1 diapers
  • Baby wipes or cloths
  • Bottles or other feeding device like a nursing simulator
  • Formula or breastmilk
  • Bassinet and/or pack-and-play

Remember, baby is going to be overstimulated by movement and changes going on around them. Make the first few days just for you, baby, and your partner, so baby can adjust and get in the swing of a schedule, before introducing baby to all their new family and friends. Some encourage lots of baby-wearing in the first few days so they can bond with your and your partner.

One of the things many parents who have gone through the adoption process say is this: Remember, you will become a parent. It may not look exactly like you thought and it may take longer than you want. It may be full of ups and downs. But it will happen. In the meantime, do your best to be patient with yourself, with your partner, and with the team of people trying to bring your baby home. And be prepared for a whirlwind of change when the time comes. Best of luck to you on your next adventure and look to Dr. Brown’s to help you and baby grow together!

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